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Ready, Set, Connect! Building Your Network in LMA

By Carolyn Hennessey posted 03-14-2024 16:08


Ready, Set, Connect! Building Your Network in LMA

By: Carolyn Hennessey

Marketing Manager, DLA Piper

Driving over to my first long run with the Capital Area Runners, there was not a familiar face to be found. Nervously I began the 90-minute run by inserting myself among the 30+ runners, and by the end, I left with half a dozen friends and training partners that I am still close with to this day. I like to think of networking exactly like this story. Even though I was intimated to join a group where everyone knew each other, pushing myself allowed me to invest in new relationships that advance my personal growth.

Investing in one’s network is a crucial aspect of career growth. Studies have shown that people with stronger networks tend to have higher salaries, get more promotions throughout their careers, and have higher overall performance ratings.1 To obtain these powerful benefits, building your network in LMA (and more broadly) can be the first step to changing your relationship with networking and advancing your professional development. 

Although it can often feel intimidating to infiltrate the crowd (even for the extroverts), taking that first step to introduce yourself to other professionals in and outside of your industry opens the door to a host of endless possibilities. Ahead of many in-person conferences and socials this spring, keep these five tips in mind when stepping out of your comfort zone and networking with new groups.

Find a sponsor.

Ahead of the event, ask around your existing network and your dormant ties to see if you know anyone going or if they would like to attend with you. Using the buddy system not only helps you feel more comfortable but will act as an easy way for your sponsor to seamlessly introduce you to others in their network you may not know (and vice versa). 

Look for an island.

In the event you’re flying solo at in-person events, you probably feel like you’re walking into a sea of strangers, potentially the odd man out. Dividing the large, overwhelming room into smaller “islands” can be a manageable way to approach a small group of three to six people. Try to find these “islands” with an odd number of people, as someone likely isn’t an integral part of the conversation and looking to connect with others. Sliding in with a smile and asking a question is a great way to interject.

Ask questions.

Networking gets a bad rap as being a transactional relationship and inauthentic, but it’s truly about building relationships with individuals with similar interests. If small talk feels superficial, push to ask deeper questions that reinforce the personal connection with new people. Instead of asking the typical East Coast, “What do you do” question, ask “What aspects of your work do you most enjoy?” Some other potential questions to ask include: 

  • What was your favorite role or position that led you to where you are today?
  • What projects are you working on now and what are you learning or enjoying from the process?
  • Which projects have had the biggest impact on your career?
  • What challenges or obstacles are you running into at work? Is there anything I can do to help?

Follow up.

Make the most of your new connections by offering up your email to keep in touch or sharing your LinkedIn profile. Creating a digital business card is an easy way to do both simultaneously. The follow-up doesn’t end there though. Commenting on their LinkedIn posts, sharing thoughtful articles relevant to the conversations you had, or inviting them to other nearby social events (like a book club) is a great way to continue developing the relationship. As mentioned earlier, reaching out to ask if these new connections are going to other future events is also a helpful way to keep in touch and reconnect in person.    

Remember to lend a hand.

I like to think of networking as giving a little to get a little. Helping my existing network broadly or personally, whether that is sharing job opportunities on LinkedIn, recommending great vendors to work with, or volunteering at conferences helps others first. By putting others first, your network is more inclined to want to lend a hand and support you at your current job, or when looking for another one. Our community is small and establishing a good reputation is important when building your brand in a network. 


One of the best things I have taken away from LMA is the network, and maximizing the in-person opportunities to learn and meet others is important to establishing your network. Conferences and socials are a natural, built-in way to reconnect with old colleagues, meet people new to the industry, and rub shoulders with senior leaders. This incredible community is the first to lend a hand in any circumstance and recommend utilizing these tips and others to build your network. 


[1] “Why Business School is a Great Time to Network,” Harvard Business Review, Riddhi Kalsi and Robbie Samuels, April 15, 2019.